Paul Lambert hoping Gabriel Agbonlahor can hit goal trail for Aston Villa

 

Paul Lambert believes Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is back to his best as he looks to mastermind a rare victory for the midlands club against Manchester United at Villa Park tomorrow.

Villa have beaten the Red Devils only seven times in 58 clashes in all competitions during the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

But one of those wins was courtesy of an Agbonlahor goal in a shock 1-0 result at Old Trafford three years ago.

The striker, who won three England caps earlier in his career, has looked sharp in recent weeks after returning from a pre-season knee ligament injury and scored the only goal in last weekend's win at Sunderland.

Lambert said: "I think Gabby at this minute in time is playing extremely well.

"There is a belief that he's starting to hit top form and is definitely a real handful. He's really quick.

"When he gets up to speed, he is a handful. If he can get goals to go with his game, he will be really fine.

"Gabby and Christian (Benteke) look a threat. The two of them are a handful at the moment for anybody."

Lambert is relishing rather than being fearful of a run of fixtures which sees Villa face United, Manchester City and Arsenal in successive weeks.

He said: "Any game in the Premier League is really tough whether you are playing Manchester United, Manchester City or anyone else.

"They are the fixtures we have to play next and you get on with it. It's something I will look forward to, not something I will think, 'Oh here we go'.

"I know the task of it and the team know the task of it, but on any given day you just don't know what can happen.

"To beat someone like United you need a bit of luck.

"We also have to believe that we can win. The belief in the football team at the minute is there.

"We are going to have to play well against them that's for sure."

Lambert is also taking encouragement from Villa's own recent performances.

He said: "We've been on a bit of run. When you get a bit of a run or achieve a good result, everyone comes in for the week feeling buoyant. This week has been no different.

"We are doing really fine. They are a young team but I think they are starting to get there."

Lambert has the utmost respect for Ferguson and believes the length of his fellow Scot's reign at Old Trafford is something that will never again be equalled in football.

He said: "I don't think 26 years, or however long he will go on in the job, will ever be done again.

"It's a phenomenal record and also fantastic achievements, not just domestically but in European terms.

"The players they have got, and the football club it is now, Sir Alex has built. It's an incredible achievement what he has done there.

"It's a phenomenal thing he has done both on the pitch and off in terms of building up the club. It's a global thing, the club. It's all down to him that's for sure."

Villa midfielder Karim El Ahmadi will return after a one-match ban but defender Eric Lichaj will be banned from facing the Red Devils after reaching his fifth yellow card of the campaign.

Lichaj's fellow left-back Joe Bennett is struggling to overcome a knee injury so Enda Stevens is in contention to play. Striker Darren Bent is again absent with his ankle injury.

PA

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